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‘Creating Empty Bottle Moments’ a Menu Cookbook That Delivers

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Clive Berkman, formerly of Charley's 517 in Houston, holds up a copy of his cookbook, 'Creating Empty Bottle Moments.'

For years, Clive Berkman kept empty wine bottles that reminded him of great celebrations in which he played a part. Now, the Houston chef has put those moments, along with the wines, menus, recipes and stories, in his book, “Creating Empty Bottle Moments” (Baxter Press, $30).

Berkman was at last week’s Ben E. Keith food show in the San Antonio Convention Center, signing books and talking food.  In his book, the restaurant manager/chef and catering consultant reminisces about meals he cooked throughout his career for celebrities, wine makers, sports figures, rock stars and theater greats.

If you like to see recipes in the context of a complete menu, this book offers interesting combinations to help you plan your own meal.  (Here and there some of the recipe ingredients are not exactly in the order of use, though, so it’s a good idea to read through them carefully first.) His recipe for a Potato Pancake is one that serves four and is suggested as a good side for grilled meats.

But what Berkman has done in this book is to share not only triumphs and failures in the kitchen, but the many ways he learned from people he encountered throughout his career. Along with memories he delivers cooking and hosting tips that are philosophical as often as they are technical.

[amazon-product]1888237716[/amazon-product]For example, he says, “Waiting is a lost art in our culture. … In the restaurant business and in every other aspect of life, we often find more meaning in the process than in the conclusion. … The conclusion of the meal isn’t the goal. The focus is the entire process involving creativity and interaction.”

Good thoughts for anyone to consider, from a writer who obviously put much thought and heart into creating those “empty bottle” moments.

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